"We just feel this is the right time to make a change," Story said.
Lucas' team went 2-8 this season, but seven of the teams that beat Lincoln won first-round playoff games last week. Lucas thought the Patriots could have won two more games and should have been more competitive in a loss to Rockcastle County. However, he never anticipated losing his job.
"I was completely flabbergasted," Lucas said. "I thought it was just a regular end of the season meeting. They (Story and Lucas) told me they had to go a different direction. They talked about what was wrong with the program. I didn't see it the same way. Some of the things they said were problems I've been saying for two years were problems."
Story, who took over as athletics director last July, said he was unaware of any major problems with the football budget. The football budget was cut from $10,000 to $7,500 and also forced to split proceeds from the Death Valley Bowl rather than keep all the money after Lucas agreed to take the job in 2002. This year Story put the budget back at $10,000 and let the football team keep all the proceeds from the bowl game.
Still, Lucas said he did not have enough uniforms to dress every player on the team each week. The Patriots also used some equipment that first-year assistant coach Clark Teague brought with him from Cumberland College.
"The budget was not enough to cover all the things we needed," Lucas said. "Out of our budget, about $2,600 goes for officials and $2,000 for reconditioning equipment. To outfit a player properly, it cost $400 to $600. My first year we spent less than $100 per player."
Salary is far below what most head football coaches are paid
Lucas annual coaching salary of $6,600 is also far below what most head football coaches are paid. Lucas lobbied for more money to add assistant coaches and even offered to use part of his salary to pay an assistant even though he was already making less at Lincoln than he did when he was an assistant coach and teacher at Somerset.
"I tried to raise the budget back up," Story said. "The school board pays all the transportation costs. We know we need to still do more."
"I never asked for a dime for myself," Lucas said. "I wanted more in the budget for my players and assistant coaches.
"I am not as dumb as people think. The reason I got this job was that I was willing to take a pay cut. But I played ball here. I wanted a chance to restore the program to where it used to be. I learned a lot here and got to coach some classy kids, but I guess it's over now."
Lucas had to break the news to his players Monday that he would not be back next year. That means this year's juniors will be playing for their third head coach in four years in 2004.
"I did not want the kids to think I quit on them," Lucas said. "You preach to kids about things like this that can happen in life. I didn't want to sound corny, but I wanted them to know I was not quitting on them. This was not my decision."
Apparently some parents and players are not happy about the decision not to retain Lucas. Several called or e-mailed The Advocate-Messenger to voice their displeasure with the decision.
"I know his record was not great, but there were no grounds to fire him," said Paula Carrier. "He came into a terrible situation."
Her son, sophomore Josh Carrier, started for the Patriots this year. She's also driven the team bus for two years
"We are very disgruntled over what has happened," Paula Carrier said. "We have parents planning to go to the next school board meeting. Some players are going to go. We want to find out what is going on."
Lucas plans to respond point by point to the reasons he was given by Story and Law for his dismissal. However, he still wants nothing but the best for the team he once played for.
"I hope they can bring in a big-name coach, support him and make this a great program again," Lucas said. "I was only here 17 months. That wasn't enough time for me. If they feel they supported me all they could, then this is where we are. But I am not going to say or do anything to hurt this program right now. I still care about this program and just wish I was going to get a chance to continue what we've started."